Ministry or Malarkey Series (MOM)
I have a “devotional-type” book – Life Letters – that I wrote for a series of life-study lessons for our Women’s Bible Study. It is obviously a MINISTRY book, something that leads people directly (do not pass GO, do not collect $200) to the Bible and the people who fill those living, breathing pages.
I also have a thousand-gazillion-kabillion fiction stories; some written, most still awaiting delivery into the ink-world. But when each of these stories is birthed, it is cover-to-cover MALARKEY. It’s all a pack of lies, fairy tales, imaginary friends, nonexistent places, etc. with a few historical, spiritual or logistical truths thrown in to give it credibility.
So. The question of the hour…. Can Malarkey be Ministry?
In particular, I write Inspirational Fiction. Or is it Christian Fiction?
Actually, it’s Inspirational Christian Fiction for Women.
But wait. I write about romance so shouldn’t I call it Romantic Fiction? Or Christian Romance Fiction.
Oh, but the hero and the heroine are married. Nope – doesn’t qualify as romance.
So I write Inspirational Christian Fiction for Women with Elements of Romance.
What? There’s also suspense? Ergh.
How about Inspirational Christian Suspense Fiction for Women with Elements of Romance?
A few more details: It’s Amish and it takes place on a ranch and there’s some paranormal time-traveling that takes the heroine from the modern day to the Renaissance period and back again.
Inspirational Christian Paranormal Suspense Historical Amish Western Fiction for Women with Elements of Contemporary Romance.
Okay. Here’s what I have determined about Inspirational Fiction. (Disclaimer: I’m not a librarian. I’m not an editor. I’m not an agent or a publisher. But I AM a writer who needs to know how to present my written words to all of the “gatekeepers” listed above.)
Inspirational Fiction is fiction that inspires or motivates by highlighting characters who overcome various forms of adversity, regardless of faith, religion, time period, sub-genre, or species. Whew! See that wasn’t so hard, was it?
But when qualifying my own writing, I need to be more specific for the gatekeepers who will send my books out into the world; the librarians, the editors, the agents, and the publishers.
I write Inspirational Christian (or Faith-based) Fiction. I write stories (Fiction) about characters who overcome adversity (Inspirational) by choosing to believe in the One Source of Hope, Jesus Christ (Christian). This is the categorical genre in which I write.
Each specific book determines the sub-genre: Women’s, Children’s, Contemporary, Historical, Western, Amish, Romance, Paranormal, Dystopian….
A book about a woman hiding in an Amish community after leaving her abusive husband in the year 2010 would be classified as Contemporary Suspense Fiction for Women with Elements of Romance.
A book about a 16-year-old Scottish girl who runs away from the orphanage and slips through time in a circle of standing stones, who is then rescued by a young monk questioning his faith who believes that she is an angel sent to guide him… something she begins to believe herself… might be classified as Paranormal Fiction with Historical Elements.
A book about a fifty-five-year-old woman who looses her husband, her best friend, and then her job, all within a period of six months, who sells everything and buys a motorcycle and goes on the road of self-discovery, who joins up with a Christian Biker Gang along the way and finds love, friendship, and a new lease on life, might be classified as Contemporary Romantic Comedy.
See what I mean? It all qualifies as “Inspirational Fiction” in that it inspires hope in the readers by instilling hope in the characters within the fiction.
What I’m discovering along this journey to publication is that the specific genre is no longer quite as important as KNOWING WHO MY AUDIENCE IS. For whom am I writing? Who will read AND appreciate what I’m writing? Who will be inspired and whose faith will grow by reading my Inspirational Faith-based Fiction? The gatekeepers want to know if anyone will read (translate=buy) my book.
The fact that there is a genre for EVERYTHING under the sun and my book can be wedged into a specific category or two doesn’t qualify a book as a success; the ability to reach, attract, develop, and increase a loyal reader following is what qualifies a book as a success.
Who cares if I’ve written an Inspirational Christian Paranormal Suspense Historical Amish Western Fiction for Women with Elements of Contemporary Romance?
It doesn’t matter what it IS, it matters what it DOES.
In the same token, if I am an Inspirational Christian Fiction Writer, then I better write faith-based fiction that inspires.
It doesn’t matter what I AM, it matters what I DO.
So I must ask myself:
- Do I write fiction that simply inspires people to do better, think higher, and be kinder? Or do I write fiction that inspires my readers to pursue Jesus Christ and the hope that He offers?
- Do I write to “convert” my readers to my way of thinking, my personal beliefs? Or do I write to proclaim the freedom that I’ve found in Jesus Christ, inspiring and motivating my readers to discover that freedom for themselves? Yes, there is a difference!
Here are some great – and far more detailed – Inspirational Fiction Definitions and Explanations:
Girls With Pens: These girls, Marcy Kennedy and Lisa Hall-Wilson each have individual websites of their own, but this post from their co-hosted site is a great breakdown on Inspirational Fiction with an emphasis on Christian Fiction. They also explore other genres as well. Good stuff.
Decompose: Mike Duran writes a thought-provoking post on The Dangers of Inspirational Fiction, specifically geared toward those of us who are believers. It’s about the slippery slope of compromise and fence-sitting, those “shades of grey” of which we must be wary. Excellent post about TRUTH.
And then there’s “Edgy Inspy” or Edgy Inspirational Romance!
What is ‘Edgy Inspirational’? In her post, Inspirational Christian Fiction author Deeanne Gist addresses the controversies surrounding Christian Fiction. “CBA (Christian Bookseller Association) Fiction has unstated rules of form and content. (No swearing, drinking, sleeping around, or getting divorced. A conversion in the third act is preferable.) CBA Fiction faces ridicule because these rules open the novels and novelists up to accusations of being cliched. Unfortunately, these accusations are often quite valid. Too many novels coming out in the CBA market are ignoring the world outside for a glossy, sterilized reality where the promise of a happy ending sugarcoats everything.” She also includes links to some of the keynote addresses at the 2005 and 2006 Christy Award Ceremonies addressing this same issue.
Do you read Inspirational Fiction? Who are some of your favorite Inspy Authors?